I adore fall. It is my favorite part of year. All days just crisp enough for bundled up outside adventuring and s’mores in the backyard. Every year I greet the approach of autumn with grand plans. We will pickle seasonal vegetables! There will be stew and homemade biscuits every night! We will wander along rivers dressed in bright leaves every other day! I will, I swear to myself, teach my children the magic of this most beautiful and shortest of seasons.
And then fall actually, you know, falls upon us. The cabbage has never really made it into the brine for pickling. And there are maybe one or two nights of stew and the biscuits are always store bought. And so far this year we have only seen those vivid canyons dressed in color and sparkling with rivers once from a car going 30 miles per hour. Generally, the most I have done before winter claims the day is taken the girls on a few visits to the pumpkin patch and initiated a moment or two of dancing in the dry leaves.
Yesterday I sat on a friend’s floor and talked about my fall failures. Because silly as it sounds, the things that remain untouched on my list of seasonal experiences feel intellectually and emotionally like utter and complete lapses in my responsibility as a mother. I mean I had all fall to make sure Zuzu and Viola went on a hunt for the missing Fairy of Autumn! A long planned, never executed activity where I am going to hide clues all over the neighborhood until they led to two fairy dolls dressed in oranges and reds. ALL FALL! And I didn’t do it. If I can’t even manage a little fairy hunt how I am supposed to guide them through the moral intricacies of life? I won’t! And they will grow up to be wandering relativists with no sense of literal or spiritual direction.
Yes. I know. Welcome to the mind of a crazy person.
My dear friend Shauna listened to my concerns (although I left out the fairy hunt scenario of moral death because I prefer that my friends operate under the illusion that I am at least somewhat stable) and then she said the most wonderful thing.
“Well, I think fall is like anything. If you can get one or two precious moments, something for you and the kids to really hang on to, then you are lucky and you have more than done your job.”
I love that woman.
Here is the thing, I almost finished a whole semester of Psych 101 once and so I have enough awareness of self to know my fall failures have nothing really to do with you know, fall. I know that the anxiety has everything to do with the shortness of this other season in my life, this moment of me and my little girls in a world of my making. And I think it is finally time to accept the wisdom of a friend that is just so much smarter than little old me.
Yes, this moment in my life is achingly beautiful and short and full of color. And my, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could stack every brief moment full of magic and wonder and lessons learned? But this, my young motherhood, their early childhood, is like anything. If I can just a few precious moments, something for me and the kids to really hang on to, then I am lucky and I have done more than my job.
Alright. That is a job I can do. And who knows, it just might include a fairy hunt in a world that is all orange sidewalks and grey skies.